Though we’re getting to the end of summer, the weather’s still being kind, and that makes it barbecue season. Those of you who are trying to get healthier may take the word “barbecue” as an immediate taboo, and hate the thought of all that meat being waved under your nose. While it’s not exactly a superfood, barbecue can still be made healthy by making a few small changes.

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One great way to make a barbecue much healthier is by swapping out the usual processed meats we all eat at barbecues. In fact, the meat is a large part of what makes a barbecue so bad for you. The exact values vary, but your standard hotdogs and cheeseburgers are brimming with calories and saturated fats. Some of the preservatives used in many supermarket meats have also been linked to colorectal cancer in some patients. Obviously, when you’re trying to live as healthily as possible, you could do a lot worse than to avoid these meats like the plague! However, you shouldn’t let this ruin your barbecue. Salmon, tuna, veggie burgers and turkey are all fantastic alternatives. These are great sources of protein, and will help you avoid some of the health risks tied to processed red meats.

When you’re trying to make sure your barbecue is as healthy as possible, it may be a good move to hand over the title of chef to someone who likes their meats lightly done. Personally, I love meat that’s a little charred and well-done around the edges, but there are various reasons to avoid burning your food. Heterocyclic amine and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are both found in overdone meats, and are known to be carcinogens. In fact, one study found that people who regularly ate charred meats were up to sixty percent more likely to get pancreatic cancer in later life. Be sure to scour your barbecue thoroughly before using it, and avoid leaving anything on the grill for too long. It may even be worth getting a more durable model of grill, like these Wilmington gas grills.

Finally, be sure to get a few fresh vegetables on the menu. During the course of any barbecue, it can be far too easy to reach out for plates and eat finger food without really thinking about what it’s doing for your health. As you can imagine, it’s not going to be anything nice! Still, you can create a great foil for this calorie overload by getting a lot of low-density veggies. Barbecues in particular are excellent for grilling bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, zucchini and bok choy. Stick to these tasty veggies for the whole barbecue, and you won’t have to worry about burning off much fat afterwards. If it’s your barbecue, then you may just want to swap the burgers out completely for healthy, veg-heavy kebabs.

I hope this little post has shown you that you no longer have to choose between eating barbecue and sticking to your health regime. Wheel out the barbecue, find some recipes and then jump in!

Sarah x